Monday, April 5, 2010

The Downfall of the Librarian

After reading this article on Parent Dish, it reminded me of one of the first posts I wrote for this blog a few years back, about a snooty librarian who seemed to be more rude than helpful.

When did librarians get so standoffish? I remember when I was younger, going to the library, and those librarians were the sweetest ladies in the world. They used to interact with us, helping us find interesting and fun books to read, walking around the library looking for someone that needed assistance, or just a smile. What happened to those days?

I think the mom in this article is completely justified in going upstairs to find her own book, while her 5-year-old daughter sits with a book in the children's area. Libraries are divided into sections, right? So, are we really expecting children to patiently stand in the adult section while we moms contemplate reading selections and browse shelves? That's why I thought they had the kids' section, filled with stuffed animals, puzzles, colorful chairs and plush pillows, scores of teen idol posters garnishing the walls so we can show our kids "See, Zac Ephron reads books, too!" It's supposed to attract the kids to linger there on there own, or so I thought.

It doesn't take that long for an adult to find a book, especially without her kids in tow. Kids over age 4 should be allowed to sit with a book or other library activity with the supervision of the librarian. It used to be a librarian's job to watch over the children, assist them in finding books, and basically manage the area. But today, they are rarely seen out behind their large desks, instead giving disapproving looks or the occasional "Shh!" I know they have their weekly story time, a scheduled sit-down where they read to toddlers and sing songs for groups. But after that, they are back behind their desks. Where is the interaction?

The mom in this article told the librarian where she was going and that she would be back soon. Her daughter was occupied with her own book and was sitting quietly. So what is the problem? I'm not saying that librarians should be babysitters, watching over children while their parents leave the building of are away for hours at a time. But I see no reason why they shouldn't be capable of keeping an eye on a child (who, according to the mom, was the only child there) for a second while the mom heads upstairs.

What happened to the friendly, kindly librarian? She used to embody a sense of community, one of those helpers who we could count on to assist our children and insure their safety. Now it seems like we parents are just in for scoldings or parental warnings. Ladies, get someone else to shelve books and hand out a smile instead.

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